from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A medieval verse tale characterized by comic, ribald treatment of themes drawn from life.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In French lit., one of the metrical tales or diversions of the trouvères, belonging mostly to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Fr. Lit.) One of the metrical tales of the Trouvères, or early poets of the north of France.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The genre of short, farcical often coarse tales written in the North of France in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from Old North French, from Old French fablel, diminutive of fable, fable; see fable.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old French fabliau, diminutive of fable


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  • A fabliau is a brief tale, often little more than an anecdote, with a sharp sting at the end of it; frequently it was in rime; generally satiric in intent, it was full of frank gayety and of playful humor.

    Introduction 1907

  • [FN#488] The fabliau is a favourite in the East; this is the third time it has occurred with minor modifications.

    Arabian nights. English Anonymous 1855

  • The second lady's trick in the fabliau is a very close parallel to the story in The Nights, vol.v. p. 96. [

    Arabian nights. English Anonymous 1855

  • The Canterbury Tales I've written so far which chronicle the pilgrims' homeward journey are all in different genres, varying from fables to fabliau, and from crime fiction to chick lit; and since Coscom Entertainment offered me a chance at publication with 'The Monk's Second Tale', this became the horror Canterbury Tale'.

    Literary Mash-Ups: What do You Think? Neth 2010

  • A person whose penchant for ceding power to fellow plutocrats even less circumspect than himself might well, in this fabliau, have actually caused our present economic catastrophe.

    Ned Goldreyer: Walking the Last Mile to Recovery 2009

  • And even these are not allowed to pall upon the mental palate, being mingled with anecdotes and short tales, such as the Hermits (iii. 125), with biographical or literary episodes, acroamata, table-talk and analects where humorous Rabelaisian anecdote finds a place; in fact the fabliau or novella.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • It is related in the “Disciplina Clericalis” of Alphonsus (A.D. 1106); the fabliau of La vieille qui seduisit la jeune fille; the Gesta Romanorum (thirteenth century) and the

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • The minstrels have a fabliau of a daw with borrowed feathers — why, this Oliver is The very bird, and, by St. Dunstan, if he lets his chattering tongue run on at my expense, I will so pluck him as never hawk plumed a partridge.

    The Fair Maid of Perth 2008

  • Only I wish we have not got King Stork, instead of King Log, like the fabliau [fable] that the Clerk of Saint

    Quentin Durward 2008

  • Compare the following three texts — the previously-mentioned Passio sancti Pelagii by Hroswitha; Filius Getronis, a twelfth-century play of St. Nicholas from St. - Benoit-sur-Loire; and the tale of the snow child (a fabliau and several other retellings throughout the period). back

    A Tender Age: Cultural Anxieties over the Child in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries 2005


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  • (n): a short pithy story, commonly of the bawdy sort.

    pl. fabliaux

    January 17, 2009

  • The bawdy is narrative's fodder
    And broad jest its babbling water.
    Jongleurs had a go
    With hot fabliaux
    And we work the famed farmer's daughter.

    August 23, 2016